View All Spice Definitions
Information for Chives
Chives, a close relative of the onion, come from the Allium schoenoprasum species that have been used in cooking for thousands of years. The insect-repelling, bulb-forming, flowering chive plant is often referred to in its plural form, as "Chives". They are also dubbed as "rush leeks", a term that comes from the Greek words "schoinos" (rush) and "prason" (leek).
Historically, Chives have been grown and domesticated in ancient China. The plant was brought back to Europe by Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer who traveled to China and Central Asia.
The chive plant produces slender bulbs that develop in thick clusters. It comes with soft, hollow and tubular stems joined by lavender star-shaped flowers that have six petals. Usually in summer, the seeds grow in tiny and thin three valve capsules resembling scallions or green onions.
Chives that undergo prolonged cooking tend to lose some of their pungent flavor. Routinely, they are used fresh as a garnish on meat and stir-fried dishes and salads. They are often chopped and sprinkled on top of the food. They can also be mixed with oil, butter, vinegar, and sour cream for a boost in flavor. Chopped chives can be frozen, however they don't dry well.
Chives have other uses, too. In ancient times, the Romans considered them to ease sore throats and sunburn. In fact, they are loaded with calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. In Romania, the gypsies have used chives to tell fortunes and believed that the bulbs protect them against sickness and evil spirits.
Photo Credit: carobe